Egypt soldier 'killed by Gaza tunnel smugglers' and tunnels to continue operating

Egypt soldier 'killed by Gaza tunnel smugglers' and tunnels to continue operating

Rafah̨ : Palestine | Apr 29, 2011 at 12:27 PM PDT
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Gazans worried about Rafah border amid Egypt tensions.

An Egyptian soldier was killed Friday during a gun battle between forces and smugglers near the Gaza border, officials and medics said.

Egyptian security sources and medics said that border guard Muhammad Reda, 22, was shot in the chest during clashes with Egyptian and Palestinian smugglers.

The soldier's body was taken to the El-Arish Hospital, medics said.

Egyptian authorities are investigating the incident.

Egypt will open the Rafah crossing in 10 days for the first time since 2007 and will effectively end its siege of Gaza. But Palestinians are also hoping that the passage of goods between Gaza and Egypt will reopen as well.

Rafah smuggling tunnels will continue to serve as the main route for the passage of goods into the Strip, Hamas sources said.

The Palestinians in Gaza Strip, under the Israeli siege for four years, try to find a solution to the dual problem of hunger and unemployment, and to alleviate their catastrophic impact.

This has consequently increased the phenomenon of digging tunnels that have enabled the people in Gaza to bring in many smuggled goods from Egypt – from food and medicine to cement and cars.

Yet, those same tunnels have allowed for the usurpation of the needy citizen in terms of price and product quality, because of the traders’ greed and monopolization of the market, not to mention the smuggling of all types of toxins and narcotics.

Meanwhile, the dissolved government in Gaza is silent.

Indeed, official parties have legitimized smuggling operations, as was evidenced by several human rights organizations working in Gaza, as well as by citizens’ accusations.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said all shipments, overseen by Hamas headquarters in Damascus, Syria, ended in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula for smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

"The arms travel overland to Egypt, through a variety of routes that cross Yemen, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Africa and eventually meet in Sudan, where they are moved to Egypt's Sinai desert," the report, titled "Hamas Arms Smuggling: Egypt's Challenge, said. "After the materiel enters the Sinai, it is transferred into Gaza via tunnels underneath the Philadelphi Corridor, the Gaza-Egypt border that runs through the city of Rafah."

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Rafah smuggling tunnels
A Palestinian smuggler lowers himself into a smuggling tunnel
saleh1966 is based in Gaza, Ġazzah, Palestine, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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